Come Join me at Naked Kitchen in the mission Friday the 13th

Food inspired by my family.

Francine’s

para minha mãe

 Vino verde cured snapper

radish, shallot, sorrel, chile oil

fried egg

rice chip, black truffle, lemon zest, olive oil,

salt cod casserole

caramelized onion, garlic, potatoes, arugula, black olives

foie terrine

 pickled rhubarb, bitter greens

heirloom tomato salad

 almonds, sherry, corn bread croutons, micro lemon basil, olive oil

braised pork

 white corn grits, roasted red cabbage, red wine

hazelnut chocolate bar

 frangelico, vanilla, espresso

A non food rant

Posted: November 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

Forgive me, for this has nothing to do with food….. well atleast on the service it doesn’t, but if you dig deep enough it will.

This all pertains to the most recent Bart strike.  I will not bore you with the details of what either side were asking. I will only tell the truth from a working class, blue collar point of view.

Friday October 18th Bart workers stepped out and went on strike for the second time this year.  They have their reasons, some reasonable and some not.  Management and Employees would not budge on certain issues namely more money/benefits.

Now I understand that everyone wants to make more money, I am one of them. To quote a movie “they say money can’t buy happiness? Look at this smile, ear to fucking ear baby”.     But in this case it wasn’t so much about how much money the employees were taking home as it was how much management was.  Why can’t people sit and think how lucky they are to have benefits and a great wage for minimal work. Not to put down Bart employees, but the average worker I have come across do not know the schedules of trains, busses, stops, eta of trains or any valuable information for that matter.  They want more money and they can’t even get the trains to run on time.

Now this is where we get to the food, Friday night at the restaurant we had a delivery of a whole pig for a charity event.  Our delivery was supposed to be early in the day, but due to traffic as a result of the strike it did not arrive until almost 7pm.  Another restaurant was unable to open for breakfast and lunch because the bread delivery was stuck on the bridge.

This strike hit more then just the daily commuters, it hit small businesses across the bay and both parties are blind to it.

The Passion

Posted: September 5, 2013 in Uncategorized

Look I am an idiot, I long and search for something that seems out of reach…. but that seems like the definition of love. Insane, crazy, stupid, doing anything in your power to make it happen. If you understand any of that you are one step closer to understanding a chef and the way we think.
Always in search of perfection, that perfect moment, the perfect bite, the perfect meal. Always searching….

Photos of Food, food magazine, Instagram, Food Porn…. it all a part of our virtual landscape now.  You cant log into anything these days with seeing images of food both high end and low end.  The News covers it, shows and movies are based around it, every aspect of a cooks life is now under the multimedia microscope.

We are reaching a point of awareness in the country when it comes to food, through instagram, Facebook, twitter, forkly and many others like them. These sites and apps are allowing all of us to share our home cooked meals, an amazing dessert by your favorite pastry chef, and a smile brought to someone’s face because they love the way you cook for them.

Many chefs have issues with pictures being taken in the dining rooms and I understand the reasoning behind it.   Here are a few of the reason and they are all very legitimate.

It’s distracting you, I disagree as I do take pictures of my meals sometimes as do many chefs. I believe this brings us closer to the food

It’s distracting who you’re with,  I agree to disagree with this one a 3 second picture hardly distracts you from your company

It’s distracting the other diners,  easy fix, don’t use flash

It’s distracting the chef,  this only applies for open kitchens, and why is the chef paying any attention to the floor and not the tickets hanging in the window

It chills the food chef spent time and energy on that dish and now its temperature is dropping,

It ruins the mystique. Some think this ruins the end of the book for some people.  i disagree, I believe it give it even more intrigue, because now I can see the food taken by a diner instead of prop that was taken by a professional photographer.

 

Some chefs don’t want pictures taken because they are simply bad pictures and they don’t want the food to look like that, they feel it can give a bad impression of the food and that it will turn guests away.  I am not one of these chefs, I believe you should take pictures of your experiences.  Chefs should be honored that people enjoyed it so much that they wanted to take a picture and share it with other.  In a study they found that people take pictures of the things we love.   Take a min and go through your pictures and see what you take the more images of, your kids, spouse, pets, food.  I do agree that it has become somewhat of a fad and people need to have some respect for other diners and learn how to take a picture properly in a not so well lit dining room.

the importance of food photography in our virtual landscape these days I believe is very important.  It allows a wide range of people to experience something they might not have tried yet, or shows off a dish or ingredient they have never had before and for me and many young chefs it gives inspiration.  Seeing others work possibly using it as a way to make your own work even better, I see nothing wrong with this and I encourage and fully support it.

Here is a very helpful set of tips to guide you on your foodstagram  http://firstwefeast.com/eat/the-pro-guide-to-taking-better-instagram-food-photos/

I was roaming the isles of Koreana Market picking up a few things for my kitchen when I saw fresh wild Octopus.  Its rare to see fresh octopus in a market here in Oakland so I had to pick it up.  They were a great size, between 150 grams and 170 grams.

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Octopus is huge in the Portuguese cuisine, stewed, fried, grilled and pretty much anyway we can cook it.  I grabbed 3 of them to work with at the house , some fresh garlic, soy and tomatoes.  I planned on doing a simple braise that reminded me of my childhood.    The soy i use was obviously a twist on the original since we don’t use much soy in the islands of Portugal.

I find many people are intimidated by cooking octopus and squid but its easier then it seems.  People have failed for so long at cooking cephalopod because they don’t understand the science behind it.  You’ve probably cooked squid or eaten out and it was tough, chewy and pretty much like a rubber band.    So here is the science behind why its tough.

The tentacle consists of a thick central nerve cord (which must be thick to allow each sucker to be controlled independently) surrounded by circular and radial muscles. Because the volume of the tentacle remains constant, contracting the circular muscles decreases the radius and permits the rapid increase in length. Typically a 70% lengthening is achieved by decreasing the width by 23%. The shorter arms lack this capability.   

Ok so what that says basically is cephalopods have a very tight muscle structure, much tighter then any other species we consume.  When heated up the proteins begin to constrict and tighten making them tough.   A few different ways to go about making it tender.

One way to tenderize is to massage the octopus, I refer you to this video http://www.nowness.com/day/2012/3/9/1986/jiro-dreams-of-sushi

Another way to tenderize is an Italian style, you blanch the Octopus 3 times at 45 seconds to 1 min each time then braising slowly for an amount of time depending on the size.

And the way I go about cooking mine.

I start with a large pot that can hold roughly 1 gallon of water per 1 lbs of octopus, 1 cup of red wine, small handful of salt, black pepper to taste, and some herbs such as thyme.  I allow the octopus to simmer in this mixture for 45 mins to 1 hour.  This will give you a soft Octopus with a little bite.

Now back to my original thought of braising Octopus at my house.

  • 3 octopus roughly 150-170 grams each
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1  16 oz can of chopped stewed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Place all the ingredients into my slow cooker making sure the octopus is fully submerged in the liquid.  I turned the slow cooker to low which on my model is roughly 160 degrees and cooked it for 45 mins.IMG_20130401_223112_705
  2. Let the liquid cool to room temperature.  Once the liquid was room temp I pulled the octopus out and patted dry with a paper towel.
  3. Take all the liquid out of the slow cooker and place into a large pot, at a low temperature a reduce by 2/3.
  4. In a non stick pan on medium high heat saute the octopus for 2 mins then add 1 tablespoon of the braising liquid to glaze

Final step! enjoy

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The final dish I produced was paired with warm hummus and sauteed greens

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I had a thought after seeing a show where a woman was making braciole and I had a thought, could i do this with shrimp.  It started as a rolled dish and slowly evolved in my head as I road back and fourth each day from SF to Oakland last week.  The thought went from something rolled like braciole to more of a cannelloni, then from a cannelloni to something more of a pasta sheet, then finally just a sheet.   A sheet a shrimp molded together to form a single piece of protein.

  • 12 each 21-25 shrimp or roughly 1/2 pound
  • 1/4 pound honeydew melon
  • 3T olive oil
  • 3T rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove black garlic

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I first chopped the shrimp up the shrimp into 1/2 inch pieces tossed them with salt, pepper and the black garlic.  After it was all mixed I placed them into a vacuum bag and sealed the bag.  Using a rolling pin i flatten the shrimp as much as I could then placed the bag into a water bath starting at room tempature then bringing it up slowly to 135F

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After about 20 mins it came up to temp and I shut the power off so it could cool slowly.  The result of the slow cooking water bath was a single unified “protein” that could be cut and shaped as I wanted.

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The black garlic seeped out while cooking and flavored the entire sheet, adding a bit of garlic sweetness throughout the entire piece.

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The honeydew melon was mixed with the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, vacuum sealed and cooking in the same manner but at a lower temperature so that I could retain the shape and texture.   the final product was a piece of honeydew that was hot to the touch but retained all its original characteristics.  The olive oil and rice wine vinegar were infused into the melon giving it a pickled flavor with hints of grass from the oil.

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The final product.  I cut the shrimp into a 2 by 5 inch rectangle.  brushing some of the liquid from the melon over the shrimp, placing a few spoonfuls of melon around the bowl, some cracked black pepper, and a few cilantro leaves. the final flavors were different then expected but almost to where I want them.  The sweetness made the shrimp tasty more of the sea while vice versa the shrimp made the melons taste more of melon.   More to come of this I am sure, this is only the beginning.

I came across these a while back and they hit home for me.  These are some of the things my first chef ever taught me.  Every young chef should memorize these, repeat them over and over again and make sure every day you go to work you follow them to the T.

No.10 Move With Precision

“My old man [Larry Forgione, considered the 'Godfather of American Cuisine'] is very silent, very clean, very precise. He was cooking something and already thinking about the next step, and everything ended up on the plate in the perfect manner. He always had that uncanny ability.”

No.9 Learn The Zen Of Flipping An Egg

“My first real culinary triumph was when I learned how to flip an egg. That was probably third or fourth grade. I remember, I learned how to do it and I probably flipped that egg about forty times once I figured out to do it. Honest to God, flipping an egg is a look into being able to cook in a fine dining restaurant. You have to have finesse, you have to have power, you have to have the timing right. A little too hard and you’re going to break it, a little too soft and it’s not going to flip. The perfect over-easy egg is something every cook needs to accomplish. No spatula — that’s cheating. Teflon pan, cheating. That’s like riding a bike with training wheels.”

No.8 Get A Sharp Knife

“You need a sharp knife, that’s for sure.”

No.7 Know And Share The Common Goal

“[In the restaurant kitchen] everybody cares about what’s going on. Nobody wants you to make a mistake, or them to make a mistake. They don’t need the chef to tell them to clean up. They just clean up. I’d never been in a place where everyone was going toward the common goal like that. It’s really cool.”

No.6 Stay Cool: Don’t Flip Out

“At home you’re cooking for fun, man. If you’re yelling at somebody at home, it’s time to sit on a leather couch and talk to somebody. Cooking at restaurants is fun, but cooking at home especially should be for sh*ts and giggles. If you’re yelling at somebody to hurry up with the chopping of the onions at home — take a step back and relax, have a glass of wine.”

 

 

 

No.5 Yelling Is Okay (At Work)

“I only yell when I have to. I’ve read other chefs saying, ‘Well if he’s yelling then he didn’t prepare them properly.’ I guess they have robots that never make a mistake. Again, there’s nothing wrong with yelling at people. You ever see Tom Coughlin during footballgame? I mean, he yells. That doesn’t make him a bad coach. Vince Lombardi, he used to yell. Pretty good f*cking coach, no?” 

No.4 Understand The Importance Of Salt And Pepper

“You need to know how to use salt and pepper. That’s the difference between a good cook and a great cook: salt, pepper and patience. Most people don’t realize how important two little things are: salt and pepper. Especially when I’m at home. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving. People are like ‘can you taste this? What’s missing?’ Salt. Put salt in it and — holy sh*t, this is delicious.”

No.3 Care About The Big Picture

“Don’t just throw a piece of meat in the pan and think you’re going to put it on the plate and you’ll all enjoy it. I can tell, two minutes, walking into a restaurant if that place cares about what they do. Before I even get any food. You can just tell by the way the hostess greets you, by the way they walk you to your table, by the way they ask if you want a drink. You can’t mask that. You can’t force somebody to be on board with what you do. I can show you all day how to do it, but I can’t show them how to care about what you do. You have to care about what you do and everyone will follow.”

No.2 Lead By Example — In The Kitchen And In Life

“Pino Maffeo (Food & Wine’s ‘Best New Chef’ in 2006), taught me how to balance social life and being a man and being a cook at the same time. I was working at Pazo at 23. And a lot of cooks like myself, especially when you’re that young — the restaurant business is hard, you want to go out after, have a drink, blow off steam. He was the one who showed me how to be able to blow off steam and make sure you’re the first at work. If you’re going out with the cooks and you’re the sous chef, make sure you’re buying them a drink. Don’t let them see you tired or sweating. Make sure you’re on them for being tired. You know, it’s leading by example. I’ve always been a believer in first one in, last one out.”

No.1 Love Thy Food

“If you’re cooking for a girl, you’re trying to seal the deal, so cook from your heart. She’ll taste it. [Various laughter in the room.] You laugh at that. It has nothing to do with being romantic. I will give you a hamburger I told I hated. Then I will give you a hamburger that I told I loved. [More laughter.] Shhh. As I’m cooking, I will tell the hamburger ‘I hate you, you suck, you’re a piece of sh*t,’ then I’ll serve it to you. Then I’ll use the same meat, and I’ll tell the hamburger that I love it, and I’ll baste it, and I’ll treat it with respect. I guarantee you’ll pick the one that I told I loved. It tastes better for some reason, and you can’t tell me why.”